Summer turned on over the weekend. It miraculously happens every year during Memorial Day weekend. Our chilly and overcast days became hot and sunny overnight.
Incidentally, my mood also made a major switch. I felt GOOD this weekend. Like, the best I have in months. I felt happy and had plenty of energy to do a bunch of stuff on what would normally be a lazy weekend day. It’s all tied to the sun, I’m sure. I feel like an extra fussy houseplant. I need plenty of direct sunlight or I wilt.
It really makes no sense that I live in one of the top 10 cloudiest states in the US.
The nice weather has meant I’m spending a lot more time outside, which is a mood booster for me even in less sunny weather. I’ve been either going for a run or a walk every day this month, and spending tons of time out on the front porch reading, scrolling on my phone, or just hanging out with a cup of coffee.
This is good for me. I need to keep it up so I can get the most out of these short summer months.
I hope you might consider this: What happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but The Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window. I know it hurts your eyes. It hurts mine, too. But the curtain is wide open. What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped. Here it is. We’re in it.
What is about to be unleashed on American society will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again. It will come from brands, it will come from government, it will even come from each other, and it will come from the left and from the right. We will do anything, spend anything, believe anything, just so we can take away how horribly uncomfortable all of this feels.
From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud.
I hope we don’t ever go back to normal.
Before this pandemic launched all of us—unwillingly—out of our routines, millions of people were already suffering. From an economy that works only for the very few, from a healthcare industry that can bankrupt you for getting sick, from a housing crisis that leaves hundreds of thousands of people unsheltered.
I hope we don’t rush back to how life was before and keep lying to ourselves that those problems can’t be fixed. We’ve seen that our government and businesses can work harder to support us. We should use this unprecedented opportunity to hold them to that and change our sense of normal to something better.
Anyone starting to get overwhelmed with so much cooking at home? When I’m in need of something easy, delicious, and leaning toward healthy, I always use the same equation: grain + protein + veggie + tasty sauce. The tasty sauce is really the star of the show here. It makes it easy to mix and match whatever grains or veggies you have on hand to easily pull together a fantastic meal.
I used this sauce to make BBQ seitan the other day and then combined it with quinoa, sautéed garlicky kale, and roasted potatoes, all drizzled with more BBQ sauce. It was so good, I’m still thinking about it days later.
Blend until well-combined:
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard (I use Dijon)
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (I subbed smoked paprika here since I didn’t have liquid smoke)
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce (again, I subbed Gochujang here!)
It’s weird to admit that I’m sort of thriving in quarantine. Normally I have a lot of anxiety about things I should be doing and places I should be going. But when everything becomes limited to what I can do with what I have at home, life becomes a lot simpler and the FOMO disappears.
Five years of working from home has taught me a lot about being a successful homebody. Let me share what works for me to take care of myself, maintain my sanity, and enjoy some quality time at home.
Read that stack of books you’ve been avoiding. Somehow I’ve managed to collect a LOT of books that I never ended up reading. And now that my local library is closed, it’s the perfect time to get into it. It feels great to finally make a dent in that old collection. I’m finding new favorites and clearing out the duds from my shelves (making spaces for new reads!).
Take your vitamins. Yep, I’m another person here to tell you that CBD helps me get through the day. I love the brand Not Pot in particular because their gummies are vegan, they’re woman-owned, and (most importantly!) part of their mission includes criminal justice reform—each month they help pay someone’s bail. I start every day with my CBD gummies and daily vitamins from Ritual to help me feel like a healthy, well-adjusted human.
Spend a little time cleaning every day. Anyone out there recently started cooking at home more and is SHOCKED by the number of dishes you can dirty in a single day? This drove me crazy for a while when I first started working from home, until I instated a rule of cleaning the kitchen for 15 minutes each day. It even functions as a nice break to get you on your feet and move around a bit if you’ve been sitting on the couch or at your desk for too long.
Get some fresh air and take a nap. These are my two favorite self-care activities right now. I feel like it’s kind of a no-brainer that taking a walk or sitting outside for a few minutes each day can make you feel like a different person. Naps, however, seem to have a little bit of a bad reputation. Naps are for lazy, depressed people and babies, not healthy, functioning adults. I’d like to reclaim the nap for us all. A good nap can feel so luxurious and restorative. It can reset a bad day or be a healing mental break if you’re feeling scattered. When you nap, you’re exclusively focused on comfort and rest. I can’t think of a more complete act of self-care than that.
Remember back in January when I posted a long list of goals I had for each month this year? Well, I’m delighted and surprised to announce that I’ve actually kept up with them. Aside from missing a couple days of yoga in January, I’ve actually done the rest of the goals every day each month. Here’s what I’ve been doing:
January: Do yoga every day
February: Meditate every day
March: Read every day
April: List to a podcast every day
Not only have I stuck to each monthly goal, but I’ve even kept them up in the following months. I wasn’t really planning to do that when I first thought this project up, but I’ve been enjoying having each of these things become part of my daily routine. I guess I unintentionally stumbled upon a great way to build good habits.
The next four months will be a little more challenging though:
May: Go for a walk every day
June: Wake up at 7am every day
July: No TV for the month
August: Talk to/text/message a friend/family member every day
I doubt I’ll end up adding this set of habits to my daily routine after the month commitment is up, but I guess we’ll see what happens!